BBB warns of fake Ebola fundraising campaign

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CLEVELAND — Before you break out your credit card to help support a nurse with Ebola, listen to Better Business Bureau first.

It announced Friday that a bogus fundraiser for Amber Vinson hit the web.

Vinson, 29, is a nurse who cared for an Ebola patient in Dallas.  She traveled to Cleveland on Oct. 10 then spent several days in Tallmadge and the Akron area before making a return trip on Oct. 13.

She was diagnosed with Ebola once she was back in Dallas.

MORE: What are the symptoms of Ebola, how is it transmitted?

BBB said a Go Fund Me account created Thursday already raised hundreds of dollars, but a member of Vinson’s family confirmed the family did not set it up, nor were they contacted about any campaign.

BBB reached out to the fundraiser’s organizer but did not receive a response at the time of this report.

The page has since been removed, but BBB has a reminder for donors.

“While the GoFundMe site may well be the effort of a well-intentioned individual, BBB warns donors to carefully research any charitable efforts – especially those that surface following an event that gains national media attention,” the bureau said in a news release.

VIRAL STORY: This is the Ebola message everyone needs to hear

Here are some tips from BBB:

  • Charities can be checked. Crowdfunding websites and projects produced by charitable organizations that have received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status provide more opportunities for verification.
    • Give to individuals you know. It is safest to give to those individuals you personally know who are contacting you to support their specific project.
    • Projects that share updates provide greater transparency. Updates from a project’s organizers help to ensure they’re being honest about the uses of raised money.
    • Don’t assume your donation or gift is tax deductible. If you are funding a project run by an individual instead of a charity, the funding you provide may not be deductible as a charitable gift for federal income tax purposes.
    • Be especially careful after a disaster or tragedy. Con artists will strike while the emotional iron is hot.
    • Read the fine print. There could be credit card fees and administrative costs associated with donating.
    • Specialized crowdfunding sites may be more adept. A site that allows any type of crowdfunding may result in more challenging oversight hurdles.